Studying the motivations of Chinese young EFL learners through metaphor analysis

Lixian Jin, Xiaohua Liang, Changsheng Jiang, Jie Zhang, Yuan Yuan, Qun Xie

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Few studies investigate ELT with young learners in China, although conservative estimates suggest 60-million primary school children are studying English; even fewer studies investigate Chinese young learners' L2 motivation. This article reports on a study of English learning motivation among Chinese primary school pupils through analysing elicited metaphors. This innovative method can yield insights into young learners' thinking and feelings which a standard interview method may not reveal. One hundred and twenty-eight pupils aged 7 and 9 years old (Y1 and Y3, respectively) from four different Chinese primary schools who had studied English for six months gave 362 elicited metaphors with reasoning entailments. Analysis shows these learners are highly positive about learning English; they feel happiness and excitement; they are influenced by interactive methods and learning through play; and believe they attain useful and purposeful outcomes. Some Y3 students indicated their dynamic awareness of English learning difficulties, but believed they would still achieve desired outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberccu011
Pages (from-to)286-298
Number of pages13
JournalELT Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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